Some internet experts say 2013 will be the year of the Internet of Things (IoT). According to this view, IoT already exists, but it just isn’t widely known and evenly distributed yet, and 2013 will bring a big breakthrough that will bring IoT to the wider market.
In most organizations, information – both proprietary and third-party – travels along known routes. Such information is put into databases, analyzed in reports, and then it ascends up the management chain. But the predictable paths of information change: the physical world itself becomes a kind of information system. In the so-called Internet of Things, sensors and actuators embedded in a physical object – from roads to pacemakers – are connected via wired and wireless networks, often using the same Internet Protocol (IP) that connects the Internet. These networks produce huge amounts of data that go to computers for analysis. When objects can both sense their surroundings and communicate, they become tools for understanding complexity and responding to it quickly.
According to McKinsey, a management consultancy firm, what is revolutionary about all of this is that physical information systems are beginning to be deployed now, and some of them even operate largely without human intervention. Pill-shaped microcams already traverse the human gastrointestinal tract and send thousands of images to pinpoint the sources of disease. Precision farming equipment with wireless links to data collected from remote satellites and ground sensors can take into account crop conditions and adapt how different parts of the field are cultivated – for example, by spreading additional fertilizer to areas that need more nutrients. Billboards in Japan look at passersby judging how they fit with consumer profiles, and instantly change the displayed messages based on those ratings.
How did the Internet of Things start?
The term Internet of Things was first used in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, a British technology pioneer who then worked as an Assistant Brand Manager at Proctor & Gamble. He became interested in using RFID to manage the P&G supply chain, and this work then led him to MIT and further research. RFID (Radio-frequency Identification) uses radio frequency electromagnetic fields to transmit data from the facility for automatic identification and tracking. Unlike a barcode, the tag does not need to be within the reader’s line of sight and can be embedded in the item.
The definition of the Internet of Things has evolved since its first use, and connectivity has expanded beyond the use of RFID. Today IoT is associated with a world where physical objects are seamlessly integrated with the information network and where physical objects can become active participants in everyday life, healthcare, business processes, etc. digital and virtual Virtual world will be integrated.
Where are we today in the IoT process?
SRI Consulting Business Intelligence sees the development of IoT in waves (see diagram). The first wave started with the use of RFID tags to facilitate routing, inventory, and loss prevention – all as helpers in the supply chain. In the second wave, we look at vertical applications such as surveillance, security, healthcare, transportation, food supply, and document management. The third wave we are heading towards is ubiquitous positioning, such as locating people and everyday objects. The next wave, expected to mature in about a decade, will be the networking of the physical world, such as teleoperation and telepresence, the ability to monitor and control distant objects.
No matter what we think and prefer for our future, every day more and more items make their way to the Internet of Things. Whether we like it or not, this will be our “brave new world”, so let’s get used to it.